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WTWF: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

This week's What To Watch For focuses on Notre Dame's struggles on both sides of the ball and Louisville's redzone issues on offense.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports


Holliman leads the nation in interceptions and Golson has turned the ball over more than 20 times this year. So this is probably something to keep an eye on. Golson is a great playmaker with a big time arm and great accuracy on the run. Where he runs into trouble is when he tries to make the spectacular play. He consistently attempts to spin out of sacks, keep his balance when going down in the pocket, and complete passes while in the clutch. There has to be a point when you realize that valuing the football is the highest priority for a quarterback. The spectacular play is not always the right play and Golson hasn't shown that he understands that. Notre Dame has a running game that is very good and a solid group of receivers. If Golson can avoid turning the ball over this offense can move the ball very well.

The number of interceptions Holliman has amassed is nothing short of amazing. Gerod has been able to read and bait quarterbacks and pick off passes in different ways all year. Whether he's in underneath man coverage on a tight end, deep zone, shallow zone, or a robber he has done a great job of reading quarterbacks and noticing tendencies. He's also done great with baiting quarterbacks and jumping routes that look open. Golson has stared down some receivers this year and Holliman is not the guy that will let you get away with that. Holliman has a chance to make history on national television. I doubt he will miss that chance.


Louisville has struggled in the redzone lately with only eight touchdowns in sixteen trips inside the twenty. The one bright spot from the offense in the early part of the season has become its biggest hindrance. Play calls as well as a lack of push from the offensive line have been the main culprits, but I would also question personnel a bit. Brandon Radcliff has been the teams best short yardage back and the combination of Dominique Brown and L.J. Scott is it's biggest. Scott has the ability to block, run, and catch in short yardage while Brown gives the appearance of a jumbo set. You also have DeVante Parker, who is the best redzone threat in the country. The options are there and they just haven't been used very well. Even early in the season it came down to a few fourth down passes to get the ball into the endzone. Sometimes it's just easier to keep it simple and use the strengths of your team.

On the flip side, Notre Dame has only stop opposing teams from scoring in the redzone five whole times all year. They're also one of the worst teams in the nation at touchdown percentage in the redzone. 71% of the time teams have been able to get a touchdown when reaching the redzone. Holding teams to a field goal is the mark of a good defense. Teams reach the redzone all the time and it should get harder for the offense with a condensed field. So holding a team to three should much more often than six times in ten games. The Irish are without their starting middle linebacker, starting defensive tackle, and a backup defensive tackle. Throw in the fact that their safeties having been able to cover anyone and you have a recipe for a soft defense. Louisville needs to attack the safeties when they have space and man up when it gets down to the goal line.


Notre Dame has a very lackluster pass rush which leaves their secondary in coverage for far too long. This has somewhat skewed the solid season that Cole Luke has had this year. Luke has a solid frame and decent speed and he has picked off four passes and broken up eight more. Opposite Luke is 5-9 Cody Riggs who hasn't done much of anything in pass defense this year. Riggs can fly, but it won't matter much if he can't handle Parker's superior size. Even on a simple slant route Parker's frame allows him to shade defenders and create his own separation. One has to wonder if the Irish shadow Parker with Luke and hope that he can hang a little better with Parker. They typically go with Matthias Farley as their nickelback, but they could also go with Devin Butler to allow themselves another option to cover Parker. The unfortunate issue for the Irish is that they haven't had much success stopping any receivers of late. Their best option to change that is to probably try to focus on stopping Parker with their best corner.


Notre Dame running backs have only carried the ball 248 times this year while Golson has thrown the ball 374 times and run it 83 times if you take out sacks. Florida State put the ball in Dalvin Cook's hands and let him use his speed to get to the edge. NC State had similar success the week before that also. Tarean Folston is the type of back that can do some of the things we saw Cook do. He has the speed to get to the edge while also having the quicks to get through a hole with speed. FSU got big plays when it could, but they really keyed on running the ball at the edges. It really helped wear the Louisville defense down and made it much easier to burn the clock late in the game. The Irish have to get Folston involved in this game to take some of the pressure off Golson. I wouldn't be surprised if they try to get Folston some big runs with sweeps and read option.